Friday, July 13, 2012

A Touch of Normality in the Disney World for Shakespseare

Stratford-Upon-Avon is a tourist attraction, built up around the fame of William Shakespeare. It has been a tourist attraction for a couple of centuries now, and it's tough to find the local aspects of the town in one that is so inundated with tourists and shops/inns/pubs/locales that cater to the tourist crowd. However, right next to Shakespeare's birthplace and museum, is the Stratford-Upon-Avon Public Library. It is unassuming in its outward appearance, for it attempts to stick to the 17th century themed-buildings that populate the town. Over the door is a small sign that says, Public Library, but nothing more to make its presence known. Tourists pass by it without glance, rushing quickly on to see the more popular attractions of the town.

However, when you actually take the opportunity to enter this building, you're walking into a modern, yet small, public library. It reminds one of a local public library branch in any small town in America. It is a Carnegie Library that was founded in 1905 and has stood there ever since. When you walk into the library, the first aspect you notice are the 16 computers, all of which are being used by library patrons. There is a woman checking out her books on one of three RFID scanners, and other locals are milling about in the small alcoves. The library is small but it fulfills the purpose of this town. We saw only three employees working, one re-shelving, another sitting at a reference desk, and one hovering nearby the computers in case anyone was in need of assistance.

When you walk through the library, you can get a sense of the demographics of Stratford-Upon-Avon. There is definitely an older crowd in the library and this is also evident in the books on the shelves. However, there is also a large children's library, showing that they do have a sizable number of children who use the books. Upstairs, there are the non-fiction books as well as the genealogy section. This is more extensive, once more showing what is important to the patrons of the library. Computers can be found throughout the library and one can access them via their library card # and password. The library uses the Dewey Decimal System and one look at the bookshelves shows that it has room to expand its collection.

Overall, the public library in Stratford-Upon-Avon has a very homey feel. It reminded me of the library that I grew up in and the one that played an important role in me becoming a librarian. While it is very unassuming from the outside, the inside is very modern and one feels very much away from the tourist trap that is Shakespeare's birthplace.  

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